Understanding Indictable Offence and Your Rights

An indictable offence refers to a more serious criminal charge where the defendant is given the right to trial by jury. If you ever find yourself accused or if you are ever arrested for an indictable offence, call Hoe Lawyers for assistance. We have over a decade of experience in handling these types of cases. In a case as serious as this, you want to be standing in the courtroom with a lawyer you can trust. We’re here to help.


If you are ever the subject of an indictable charge, make sure to hire a seasoned lawyer. Conviction of an indictable criminal charge can lead to a sentence that will harshly impact your life, so you want to have an experienced attorney by your side. Hoe Lawyers has the necessary skills and reputation to assist you in case of an indictable offence allegation. Contact us for a consultation.

Judge signing a document

What Is an Indictable Offence?

An indictable offence is an offence wherein the accused has the right to be ultimately heard before a judge and jury (trial by jury) in a higher court, such as the Supreme Court or District Court. These offences are considered more serious than summary offences that can be heard in lower courts without the presence of a jury. In general, the majority of indictable offences are first heard for Mentions in the Magistrates’ Court the same way as summary offences. Some indictable offences can be ultimately dealt with summarily in the Magistrates Court by choice while others cannot.

What Is an Example of an Indictable Offence?

Indictable offences are offences that are more serious in nature. Examples include:

  • Drug Trafficking Offences
  • Indecent Assault
  • Aggravated Burglary
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder and Treason

An indictable offence charge requires that the person accused be present at all hearings in Court, with the first hearing (called a committal hearing) normally heard in the Magistrate’s Court. The first hearing is where the parties involved will determine whether the case will be heard in the Magistrates Court, or sent to the Supreme Court or District Court.

Lady Justice and a Gavel

What Is the Difference Between Summary and Indictable Offences?

There is a distinction between a summary and indictable offence based on the seriousness of a crime. The main difference between them is the mode of trial. Read on to learn more about these offences:

Summary Offences

Summary offences are cases that are tried by a judge alone. When charged with a summary offence, the person in question does not have the right to a trial by jury. Because of this, these types of cases are generally processed through the justice system a lot faster than when a person is charged with an indictable offence.

Summary offences are also usually less serious in nature, like traffic offences and petty crimes. In some states in Australia, summary offences have a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. For the offence to be considered a summary offence, the statute has to clearly say that the case can be dealt with summarily. If it can’t then the offence will be considered an indictable offence.

Indictable Offences

An indictable offence requires a trial by judge and jury. When charged with an indictable offence, and you plead not guilty, you will be guaranteed the right to a trial by jury.
 
Aside from these two types, there’s also what we call a hybrid offence (observed in several jurisdictions). Hybrid offences are indictable offences that allow the accused person to choose whether they want the matter dealt with summarily. In this case, the accused individual is given the chance to choose not to have a trial by jury and be tried by a judge alone.

Having a matter dealt with summarily means the case will be resolved faster compared to if you have a jury trial. It might seem convenient, but unless you know the law, it’s better to leave the decision to a lawyer. Legal advice from a lawyer well-versed in court presentation (usually in the higher court) is most valuable and can give you the best outcome.

Limitation period

In Australia, there is currently no limitation period on charges for indictable offences. This means that it doesn’t matter when, if evidence emerges that indicates a serious offence was committed in the past, charges can still be made against the person in years later. There are instances where a person has still been charged even though it has been over a decade since the alleged crime was committed.

Yes, it may be challenging to prove that the indictable offence was committed after a long time, but the case will be treated in the same way a new case would.

Penalties for Indictable Offences

Maximum penalties for indictable offences such as murder or manslaughter that can be imposed by higher courts are set out in the Crimes Act. These penalties are significantly longer than Magistrate-imposed penalties. Some indictable offences can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
 
So, if you’ve been charged, arrested, or are being put under investigation for committing an indictable offence, seek the help of an experienced and reputable criminal lawyer. Here at Hoe Lawyers, we have defence experts who can assist you to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us as soon as possible should you require representation. You can also schedule a free initial consultation with our team. We look forward to hearing from you.

Summary Offences

Summary offences are cases that are tried by a judge alone. When charged with a summary offence, the person in question does not have the right to have a trial by jury. Because of this, these types of cases are in general processed through the justice system a lot faster than when a person is charged with an indictable offence.

Summary offences are also usually less serious in nature, like traffic offences and petty crimes. In some states in Australia, summary offences have a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. For the offence to be considered a summary offence, the statute has to clearly say that the case can be dealt with summarily. If it can’t then the offence will be considered an indictable offence.

Indictable Offences

An indictable offence requires a trial by judge and jury. When charged with an indictable offence, and you plead not guilty, you will be guaranteed the right to a trial by jury.

Aside from these two types, there’s also what we call a hybrid offence (observed in several jurisdictions). Hybrid offences are indictable offences that allow the accused person to choose whether they want the matter dealt with summarily. In this case, the accused individual is given the chance to choose not to have a trial by jury and be tried by a judge alone.

Having a matter dealt with summarily means the case will be resolved faster compared to if you have a jury trial. It might seem convenient, but unless you know the law, it’s better to leave the decision to a lawyer. Legal advice from a lawyer well-versed in court presentation (usually in the higher court) is most valuable and can give you the best outcome.

Limitation period

In Australia, there is currently no limitation period on charges for indictable offences. This means that it doesn’t matter when, if evidence emerges that indicates a serious offence was committed in the past, charges can still be made against the person in years later. There are instances where a person has still been charged even though it has been over a decade since the alleged crime was committed.

Yes, it may be challenging to prove that the indictable offence was committed after a long time, but the case will be treated in the same way a new case would.

Penalties for Indictable Offences

Maximum penalties for indictable offences such as murder or manslaughter that can be imposed by higher courts are set out in the Crimes Act. These penalties are significantly longer than Magistrate-imposed penalties. Some indictable offences can carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
 
So, if you’ve been charged, arrested, or are being put under investigation for committing an indictable offence, seek the help of an experienced and reputable criminal lawyer. Here at Hoe Lawyers, we have defence experts who can assist you to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us as soon as possible should you require representation. You can also schedule a free initial consultation with our team. We look forward to hearing from you.

Under Investigation for an Indictable Offence? Don’t Fret.

An indictable offence charge is not the end of the world. Yes, an offence is an offence, but an allegation is not a conviction. With the truth and a competent criminal lawyer on your side, you can hope for a good outcome for your case.

If you’re looking for a seasoned criminal lawyer who can represent you as you try to clear your name in an indictable offence case, Hoe Lawyers can help. We have over a decade of experience helping clients with their legal needs. Contact our team for more details or schedule a free initial consultation with us today.

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